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The Way Things Were


It was my first time on the road and I was 13.

I was feeling sad because my mother had called and said she and my dad wouldn’t be able to come keep an eye on me. They had things to do back at home that were more important, she said.

I guess I am not that important.

“Why can’t my mom and dad come?” I asked Kevin as he helped pack the last of our luggage onto the tour bus. I was holding my beat up green backpack, playing with the strap. Being away from home for a while made me nervous. Would my brother and sisters be ok without me there to watch them?

“They had stuff to do at home, kiddo.” Kevin said, his arms flexing as he lifted the heavy suitcase. I suddenly felt very lonely. Brian had his girlfriend. Howie had his girlfriend and so did Kevin. AJ had his mom. I had nobody and I suddenly wished I could go back and not sign that paper. Everyone was so excited to be traveling and here I was feeling homesick before we even left.

“You’ll be fine, Nick. These guys will soon be your family,” Lou told me. He patted me on the back, but I moved to stare at the bus. I like Lou because he is our manager but I find myself always looking for someone when I am alone with him, he makes me nervous.

I wasn’t sure about these guys being family, I mean Kevin is like the dad and AJ is weird. Like that weird uncle at Christmas who wants you to pull his finger. Howie is always either on the phone or sleeping, and Brian….well he’s Brian. He’s too cool.

I sighed and got on the bus, everybody was talking about who would sleep where. I was assigned a bunk across from Brian. I felt weird so I decided to play my game boy. I had brought every game I owned, so I figured I might as well work through the pile in my bunk.

“Hey Nick….you all right?” Howie asked once the bus started to move and we settled in.

“I guess.”

I watched the world pass by through the window, and I missed my family.

I was always the one taking care of my brother and sisters, and it felt weird not having to be responsible for anyone. Nobody yelled at me, nobody was fighting. It was peaceful but I felt alone.

“He’s awfully quiet.” AJ said to Kevin as they walked past me. I was playing Tetris on my Game Boy.

“Nick, want to watch a movie with

“Me?” I said, looking up from my game. It was Brian.

“No, the other Nick. Yes, you.” he laughed. I wasn’t used to being asked to hang out by people older and cooler than me.

“Sure…” I said, setting the game down and joining them in the back of the bus. We watched a couple movies and ate popcorn, just being normal guys. Then it hit me. Would it always be like this? Would we have time to just be normal?

“What ya thinking about, squirt?” AJ asked, throwing a pillow at me and missing. It hit Kevin and we laughed.

“The future.”

They all kind of stared at me and I felt my ears go pink.

“Deep thoughts for a Star Wars marathon, kiddo. We aren’t even through Empire Strikes Back yet.” Kevin chuckled.

“You think we will be famous like Lou says?” I said softly. Brian was sitting next to me, he sat up, thinking before he spoke.

“We will. I think the five of us were brought together for a reason.”

“We are gonna make so much money we won’t know what to do with it.” AJ interrupted and Kevin threw the pillow back at him.

“Don’t get too cocky AJ.”

I laughed but looked at Kevin.

“Money would solve a lot of problems. I just want my family to be happy.”

The guys had no idea how much I wanted to please my parents….I wanted them to stop fighting about money and be happy. I figured if I could get enough money, our problems would be solved forever.

Little did I know how wrong I was later on.

We all stopped talking and finished our movie, only Brian and I were left, I was too tired to go to my bunk. We lay there while the other guys went to bed.

“Everything is gonna be just fine, Nick. This band will be good for all of us. You’ll see.” Brian smiled at me.

“I just wish my mom was here, but they didn’t care enough to come.” I said, hearing the end credits to Star Wars playing.

“I am here for you, so are Kevin…AJ…and Howie. We are family now. You’re stuck”

“You mean I am stuck with you.,” I laughed, my eyes getting heavy. We both kinda just fell asleep there not thinking anything of it, Brian curled up next to me. I felt better, it felt great having someone looking out for me for once instead of me being the one taking care of everyone.

I take a drink from my beer and sigh to myself:

“Family my ass.”

Funny how things change.

I took out my phone and almost called him right then. I just wanted to hear his voice.

I knew he wouldn’t pick up, but talking to him would make me feel less lonely. As I look at my cell phone, I wish things were still like that. I hover my finger over the call button on my phone  showing Brian’s name on the screen and sigh again, looking at the beer on the counter in front of me. I hate to admit it but I miss him. The guys were my only family and it killed me that we were all growing up, things were changing. We weren’t those carefree kids anymore, no matter how hard I fight it.

Hopefully things will be like they used to again one day.


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